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Peebles Racing has done it all
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Dirt, asphalt, demo and circle track
By Leigh Ann Rutledge
Money can’t buy everything. It can’t buy happiness, health or a blown tire on a race car.
Especially the tire that sent Josh Peebles into the wall at Bristol Motor Speedway at 90 mph; the same wall legendary NASCAR drivers, Dale Jr., Tony Stewart and Terry Labonte hit.
Today, Peebles, of Carrollton, races a truck at Midvale Speedway for Peebles Racing.
His ride to Bristol began with a crash.
The now 33-year-old began his crashing days in demolition derbies. Peebles began competing in derbies in 2007. After a year of competition, he traded for another car. Enter fellow-derby driver, Eddie McLean, who talked Josh into turning the car into an enduro car, rather than a derby car. Enduro races mostly take place on oval tracks and consist of hundreds of laps.
From derby to dirt track
Josh then moved on to the world of circle track racing. He and his dad, Don, built a circle track car by separating parts out for Brian Shuman, owner of Countryside Recycling. For his assistance, Don received a 1994 Chevy Cavalier and Josh helped him build it for the compact class in 2009.
“It spiraled from there,” said Josh. “We kept building them and wrecking them.”
By 2012, they became a competitive group, racing at Deerfield, a dirt track. Don also began racing in the compact class. Neither made it to the winner’s circle. They linked up with Jeremy Ross and Jason Shaw (circle track drivers) in 2015, and began to learn what they needed to do to be more competitive.
“Dad won two features,” Josh explained. “He was ok placing third instead of wrecking someone to win.”
Don purchased two new cars in 2016, one of which Josh’s stepmother, Cindy, drove. The first night out in the heat race, Josh experienced what he said was his scariest time ever, “I watched my dad barrel roll four times.”
Fortunately, Don was ok. They took the car to the pits, removed the broken pieces and salvaged a sixth-place finish in the feature. He went on to win the championship that year at Deerfield.
Josh noted Cindy drove during this time. She won a heat race and loved to drive, but liked to do her own thing on the track.
Several changes occurred in 2018. They switched to the asphalt track at Midvale, Don stopped racing and Josh began racing full-time.
What was it like switching from dirt to asphalt?
“It was different, but I took the aspects of dirt and put them to asphalt,” Josh explained. “I was able to be competitive and won two features and two heat races.”
While he was racing and after he quit, Don often put other drivers in the seat of cars owned by Peebles Racing. Jason Shaw drove full time for the team in 2016-17. They continue to build cars and have seven today. Five are on the track. Peebles Racing won back- to-back championships from 2015-2017.
The Peebles do not do their own engine work, but are self-taught doing body work. Don has worked on cars with his dad since he was young. In fact, Peebles Racing began in the dirt driveway at Josh’s grandmother’s home (Mary Peebles) in Minerva.
“Without Grandma’s support, we wouldn’t be where we are,” Josh explained. “She would mask off tires so we could paint wheels and she made stencils to paint on our cars.”
In 2018, Peebles Racing sponsored seven cars. Josh finished the season fifth in the points race in the compact class.
For Josh, 2019 started off as usual in the compact class at Midvale. In May, he traveled to Bristol Motor Speedway to compete in the Bristol Short Track Nationals. He qualified for the B Main event and started 12th in a field of 20.
He moved up and was battling the leaders after just a few laps. He was preparing to pass the leader when he blew a right front tire and hit the wall going 90 mph. Average speed on the track is 123 mph.
“It was unreal, a dream come true,” Josh said of the opportunity to compete. “Hoosier (tire company) wanted to buy the wheel and tire and I said, ‘No way. There is no amount of money that can replace this. That tire hit the same wall as Dale, Jr. and Tony’.”
The wheel and tire are displayed in his garage.
The beginning of the season not only featured Bristol for Josh, he also put two heat wins, two feature wins and a mid-season championship under his belt. In August, he had a medical emergency that sidelined him for six weeks. Kyle Lawson, a driver who has won championships in the past, filled the driver’s seat using Josh’s number, so Josh could collect the points. Josh finished the season and again was fifth in points.
After the season ended, Josh decided to change routes and build a truck. (Eddie McLean switched to racing trucks and talked Josh into the venture.) Josh bought a Chevy S-10 truck that was “race ready”. He had seven months to do body work. Peebles Racing truck #78P (Josh’s sons were born in 2007 and 2008; P for Peebles) with an Austin Dillon-like paint scheme was ready to make its debut in 2020.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Midvale Speedway did not open until June 13.
Peebles was not present for the opening, he was driving another Peebles truck on a dirt track at Good’s Raceway (formerly Deerfield Raceway) to gain experience behind the wheel.
He debuted the asphalt truck in the Mini Truck Class June 20 at Midvale. He was fourth in qualifying and placed fourth in the feature.
“We fought the truck all day, but I did lead two laps,” Josh explained. “All in all, we had a good run. We will change things up a little this week and are going to go give it our best shot next week.”
Josh has two sons, Joshua, 12, and Nicolas, 11. They like being in the pit area during races. At home, they help with the truck, such as changing tires and doing the little things needed.
Joshua is a 7th grade student at Carrollton Middle School. He competes in demolition derbies, placing 8th in field of 20 in the “Bash for Cash” youth class at Chillicothe, the biggest demolition derby in the U.S., and 8th in the youth class at the Carroll County Fair.
Joshua runs #77, which is the number he wears while playing football for the Carrollton Warriors. His uncle, Mike Barr, was “along for the ride” with Joshua in the events. How was it to pull the gearshift into reverse and start smashing cars?
“It was fun,” Joshua said with a smile. He hopes to be able to compete this year with a Honda Accord or a Chevy Lumina. He wants to race circle track eventually, but according to Josh, has to get through the “derby mentality of wanting to smash things.”
Nicolas will be a 6th grade student at Carrollton Middle School. He will be eligible to race next year in the compact class only. (Age to compete in the compact class is 13.) His grandfather said he gave Joshua a derby car and would build Nicolas a compact car.
Joshua and Nicolas have a go-cart and a track in their yard. “Dad tried to drive his car around the track. It was hilarious,” said Nicolas. Driving the go-cart allows the boys to become familiar with driving on an oval track.
Josh plans to stay in the truck class and acknowledges, none of it would be possible without the support from his dad and his sponsors, Peebles Racing, Newfast Motor Sports, Slackers Ohio, Kaiden Kares, France Trucking, Poor White Trash Man Fabricating, Hoopes Line & Sinker and Finish Line Designs. The truck class, Josh feels, is more a family-type environment.
Another member of the Peebles family has also been behind the wheel of a race car, Brittni, Josh’s wife. She was in the passenger seat for his second win in the enduro class. She raced in the enduro race at 250 Speedway, placing fourth. She goes to races and helps Josh.
“She has been super supportive,” Josh stated. “Racing takes its toll; it takes time away from the family being in the garage, but Brittni knows I like it and she supports me.”
He added, “Win, lose or draw, Brittni is my number one fan.”
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